GlideWear Undies for Her
by Kate Matelan
Ah, the beauty of skin breakdown, that inevitable part of chair life. As an active C7-T1 quad, I know it too well. I’m constantly popping in and out of my chair, sliding around, and putting my thin-skinned lower back to the ultimate test.
I’ve found a lot of shearing workarounds — rotating in leggings, switching from cheeky underwear to a lacey boybrief, even using Mepilex patches on my typical breakdown spot. On top of that, I am a gal with style — that means jean seams, layered clothing, and underwear of all shapes and material types. Add it up and you can guess what happens: shearing. So when I was presented with a pair of women’s GlideWear Skin Protection Underwear, I put them to a true test.
GlideWear makes a number of products using its patented low-friction fabric to reduce shearing and friction. These comfortable, nylon/spandex yoga-like black women’s shorts just hit the market on the heels of a men’s version. There are a lot of similarities between the two, except the men’s shorts have a moisture-wicking front panel with catheter access flap and come in a different color. The shorts are designed to protect at-risk skin using the company’s patented, dual-layer “silk-like” fabric. The breathable fabric also keeps your skin dry and cool. Plus, the shorts are machine washable — a huge perk for wheelers.
Before the shorts arrived to try, I was in full skeptic mode. There was a lot of: “Oh, the XS will never fit my petite frame. I’ll be swimming in the shorts, as I do most non-petite sizes! The upper thigh — sigh — it’s going to gape around my atrophied muscles like all shorts.” At $54.99-$59.99 per pair for the men’s shorts (women’s pricing not available at press time), the shorts are not cheap. I was interested to see whether these were worth the price tag.
I wiggled them on myself like I would a pair of leggings, wearing them over my regular underwear. I was pleasantly surprised by the fit. The built-in control of the waistband was snug enough to stay up without cutting into my atrophied stomach muscles. The lines were clean, the fabric in the upper leg was fitted (not clingy either!), and the style required no yanking after transferring back into my chair. Believe me, that’s a first.
I read the product description afterwards and figured out why they fit my atrophied frame — the design, a tapered thigh contour, already took that into consideration. And why did they not ride up? The non-binding thigh cuff was specifically included to keep them in place. The lightbulb totally turned on for me at this moment.
I tried the shorts around my place, out for rolls, and in a variety of other planned ways. One evening I rolled in a little late from work, only to find my trainer waiting for me. I bolted upstairs and didn’t want to waste any time changing. I knew we’d be working on my back and stomach and my shorter summer dress would provide quite the show. The GlideWear shorts were clutch — I slid them over my underwear and under my dress. Bonus? Unknown to me, my back was getting rubbed during the exercises and the shorts prevented any wear and tear. I had a little mark on my uncovered upper back, but nothing where I normally shear.
I’m not all sunshine and rainbows about the shorts. I can’t wear them under my skinny jeans and they stuck out underneath several skirts and dresses. You could also see their outline under more fitted dresses, pants and skirts, which is a wardrobe no-no in my world. The high back panel gives you coverage, but it may stick out above your waist when underneath other clothing. I didn’t love that part because I don’t want anything peeking out when I’m bending and exposing my back. But, I understand the need for a higher back and the skin benefits it does provide.
My final verdict: the shorts material and construction is awesome. The design took into consideration some really important factors that you can’t find in mainstream shorts, let alone adapted ones. However, I would only wear them as casual shorts (with a cute racerback tank) or during a workout session. If the same material came in a more traditional underwear-like style, I’d probably find more uses for it.
GlideWear Undies for Him
by Bob Vogel
I’m 57 and in my 32nd year as a T10 complete para. I still do mirror-skin-checks every evening, and had adopted wearing cycling shorts in lieu of traditional underwear to avoid marks from the cotton seams. I’m also acutely aware that shear is as great or a greater threat to tissue injury than pressure because it can cause a deep tissue injury.
The GlideWear shorts at the Tamarack booth caught my eye at the International Seating Symposium last March and I decided to give them a try. My summary: they’re great! They fit well, don’t bunch up and a mirror check reveals no seam marks. I also like the way the material wicks away moisture so they stay dry.
I noticed the most important aspect of GlideWear when I first wore them. When I lean from side to side or forward in my chair, my butt pivots, although I am still secure in my chair. I realized that before GlideWear, even by leaning sideways or forward to pick something up, I was putting sideways pressure on fragile tissue and tiny capillaries, something the shorts help reduce. I like the way they fit, like the way they perform, and feel more secure knowing I have an edge against shear.
GlideWear’s shorts have a 30-day, 100 percent money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty. Available at glidewear.com for $54.99-$59.99.